Wednesday, 5 February 2014

197 New voters in District No.1 St Helier – Electoral Registration Success

One hundred and ninety-seven new names have been added to the electoral role in District No.1 St Helier. This is an achievement of dedicated volunteers seeking to bring democracy to St Helier.

At the commencement of the voter registration campaign there were 4770 names on the electoral role as at November 7th 2013 and today there are 4967 persons registered to vote in the District No.1 by-election to be held on Wednesday 5th March 2014.

The electoral role closed on Monday at Noon and candidates have now been issued with the electoral role that will serve for the election. The role of eligible voters is now closed and new names cannot, under the present state of the law, be added.

One of the proposals of PPC, the Privileges and Procedures Committee of the States of Jersey that oversees electoral matters, is that additional voters should be added up to one week before the election day. Under these proposals a secondary role of names would be compiled and be available to candidates. This would be a great advance for democracy in Jersey.

In St Helier alone there are 10,000 eligible people who are not registered to vote. This is a disaster for democracy. Add to that the high voter abstention, which is up to 70% in St Helier, there is a serious crisis of legitimacy for government in Jersey.

Does the ruling party and its members care? Not in the slightest. Their motto has always been “The fewer the better” – that is to say the fewer who vote the better for us – the political class.

STV/AV voting systems

Yesterday in the States the proposals of Deputy Montfort Tadier (St Brelade No.2) to introduce a new voting system for the General Election in October 2014, was rejected.

There were 16 “Pour” and 25 “Contre” the introduction of Single Transferable Vote (STV) and in respect of the Alternative Vote system (AV) there were 20 “Pour” and 21 “Contre”. Significantly there were two abstentions on both votes – those of the Chief Minister Senator Gorst and Senator Ozouf the Treasury Minister. I say significant, because clearly both realised such a change was intellectually the correct thing to do but they could not bring themselves to take the leap of faith into a more democratic system.

The Electoral Commission, headed by Sir Philip Bailhache, recommended the introduction of STV and AV in its report that preceded the April 2013 Referendum. However they only want it to come into place for the elections in 2018 rather than 2014. Why? Because, you dear reader, are too thick and unable to list candidates in order of preference from 1 to 3 for Deputy elections in St Helier or 1 to 8 for the Senatorials. Such is the contempt in which you are held by the Jersey Political Class. Think on it. These are your rulers; these are the guys running the show.

Once again we see how the Jersey Political Class is paralyzed and unable to deliver significant modernisation and democracy to a system that all agree is sclerotic. We saw the same reticence and vested interests manifest at the time of the 2013 Referendum. 

Option B, the favoured option of government, was exposed, by academics and activists alike, as clearly the worst option. Indeed had it been passed it would have increased inequality and left St Helier grossly underrepresented and the Country Parish grossly overrepresented. In other words a gerrymander of the first order of which Ulster Unionists would be proud. That the States did not pass Option B is something for which we should be grateful not critical. They realised that a reduction in the numbers of members to 42 would have left the Scrutiny side of government completely emaciated. This is precisely what the party of government want and a "Managed Democracy" a la Putin's Russia would follow.

It now rests with the democratic Left/Liberal/Anti-authoritarians/Libertarian/Patriotic bloc to deliver democracy to Jersey. The election of Nick Le Cornu in District No.1 on 5th March 2014 will be a significant step forward to that achievement.

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